AN ADVENTURE IN FOOD, BOOZE & ENTERTAINMENT
While I wouldn’t consider Tom’s Urban a sports bar, it is located at L.A. LIVE across the street from Staples Center and with its 75 flatscreens showcasing some sporting event on most of the sets it does come off as a gastropub with a sports fetish.
Founded by Tom Ryan, named one of the Top 25 Food Entrepreneurs of the Last Quarter Century by Gourmet Magazine as well as the founder of Smashburger, Tom’s goal is to create dining and drinking experiences that linger long after your meal. With locations in Denver, Las Vegas, Connecticut and Denver, Tom is proud to say that his “drink selection covers the preference spectrum, from old-school beers to outlandish cocktails, and our long list of food guarantees that anyone will find something to try and something to fall in love with.”
Before any event at Staples Center the place is packed. We went for dinner midweek and arrived just before Lakers tipoff, which meant parking in the area was scarce but a lot of tables had cleared as satiated fans were heading to the game. We started our night with cocktails, notably the Darker & Stormier with Kraken Black Spiced Rum and Tom’s house-made ginger beer. A good friend of mine once said a Dark & Stormy is a great way to start the night so this darker and stormier version aptly did the trick.
While Tom’s Urban sports a full bar, its signature cocktail list is far from stellar as its forte just isn’t handcrafted cocktails but the drink list does run the gamut of styles and its Cactus Ass Kick with Herradura Tequila, hibiscus syrup, prickly pear and lemonade is a good starter. And the Bacon Bourbon Mary with Bacon Jim Beam bourbon whiskey, house-made bloody Mary mix, cream cheese schmear is described by Tom Ryan as “Bloody Mary’s wise, angry, inappropriate and oddly delicious uncle.”
With a very extensive menu, there is something for just about every taste. If you want to get your greens then the Sonoma Goat Cheese & Wild Arugula salad with pistachios, fresh Granny Smith apples, crushed red pepper, extra virgin olive oil and fresh orange is a good, healthy choice.
Likewise, the Crispy Brussels Sprouts with red peppers and Asian vinaigrette is another good, healthy option. While this Brussels dish isn’t as decadent as most around town overloaded with maple and bacon, this one still manages to be very tasty.
If you’re looking for a hearty and decadent dish, then the “Al Carbon” Steak Nachos with chargrilled Angus steak, tri-colored tortilla chips with cheese, pico de gallo, fresh jalapeños and a side of crema is the way to go. The most popular dish at Tom’s Urban Las Vegas it was quickly added to all the menus and it’s perfect for sharing or can serve as a meal all by itself, although I doubt you’ll finish it by yourself.
If you’re looking for something a little out of the ordinary from sports bar or gastropub fare, the BLT Lobster Roll with cracked lobster tossed with chopped celery, green onion, fresh lemon juice and mayo, topped with Applewood smoked bacon, butter lettuce and Roma tomatoes, on a butter-toasted brioche roll is a slam dunk.
And while the Fried Frog Legs weren’t the greatest, I just had to order them because when else do you get to eat fried frog legs? And this was one pound of batter fried Original Crispy or Nashville Hot with remoulade and green chili ranch dipping sauce served with shoestring garlic fries or cheddar polenta grits. I had leftovers and was able to wow everyone at the office the next day.
If you’re eating family style, then consider the Lobster & Shrimp Mac & Cheese with rich, creamy mac and cheese with butter-poached lobster and shrimp a must-have. This is a winner! So decadent and so good, this bad boy gets the job done.
Street tacos are very popular at Tom’s Urban and the Truffle Portobello & Fire Roasted Poblano street tacos with queso fresco, truffle oil, pico de gallo, fresh lime and orange are a good meat alternative and the Pork Belly Banh Mi street taco with house-made pork belly topped with Chile lime, Asian slaw, pickled onions, sliced jalapeños, fresh cilantro, and Chile mayo is killer.
If you’re in the mood for a big meaty entrée, then I recommend the Tom’s “Big & Sticky” Rib Rack with St. Louis ribs hardwood smoked, slow cooked, double sauced and glazed with house-made BBQ sauce served with your choice of side. The meat just fell off the bone and was just so damn tasty.
You know damn well that any place that specializes in comfort food done to excess is going to have dynamite desserts and that’s the case here. Not a dessert you’ll see everywhere, the Pineapple Upside Down Cake made with buttery cake, caramelized brown sugar, pineapple, mango and caramel sauce is the bomb. Maybe because I was raised eating pineapple upside down cake I really took to this dish but it just worked. And since it’s no secret that I love liquid dessert best, I was a big fan of the adults only Not Your Father’s Root Beer Float. It doesn’t really get any better than root beer flavor, booze and vanilla ice cream.
At Tom’s Urban, whether you’re there for a drink or a meal or a quick stop before a concert or game or you’re making a night of it, you’ll enjoy oversized comfort food selections in a lively, energetic atmosphere. So, as Tom likes to say, “Drink. Eat. Screen.” Your adventure in booze, food and entertainment awaits.
Tom’s Urban is located at LA LIVE at 1011 S. Figueroa Street. Hours: Monday - Friday 11am to Close; Saturday and Sunday 9am Brunch to Close. Call (213) 746-8667.
Story by Jose Martinez
Some Photography Courtesy: Tom’s Urban